A stylish and seductive Victorian gothic vampire novel of romance and horror.
“You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one forever.”
It’s 1872. Laura Western (mother of Lucy, in Dracula) and her father live in a castle in the Austrian countryside; a peaceful, uneventful existence that leaves young Laura anxious for a bit of excitement. Their lives are turned upside down when an out of control carriage careens out of the night and crashes before their very doorstep. Dark and spooky strangers emerge from the wreckage, leaving a beautiful, angelic girl in the Westenra’s care before vanishing once again into the night.
As this mysterious stranger is welcomed into their home, Laura suddenly finds her life a whirlwind of uncertain new feelings as her friendship for their new guest grows, and as she faces falling in love for the first time. Meanwhile, an unknown plague sweeps through the local village and when Laura becomes sick, her devoted father fears the worst – that she too is a victim of the baffling disease.
Little do they know that the plague and Laura’s new best friend are intimately connected. And that demons from the past are not so dead as they appear.
What shocking horrors are divulged as they unearth the truths about the deserted ruined village in the woods, the history of the once-noble, now extinct Karnstein family, and the people they thought they knew? Can Laura survive the worrying, seductive illness slowly pulling her into darkness? Will anyone live on once they discover the true evil behind all the death around them, and the epic confrontation it leads them to?
She looked into my eyes. “Are you afraid, dearest?”
I shook my head. “No. But I should be very much if I fancied there was any real danger of my being attacked as those poor people were.”
“You are afraid to die?”
“Yes, everyone is.”
She sighed and spoke dreamily. “But to die as lovers may, to die together, so that they may be together forever.”
With appearances by Count Dracula and Abhraham Van Helsing!
Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and traditional gothic vampire literature will be thrilled at seeing their favourite characters appear here. Fans of Charlaine Harris’s True Blood series, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series and Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles will love experiencing the roots of the modern vampiric tradition.
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Rewriting or referring to classics is always dangerous and if you want to do it about vampires, worst because we all know vamps’ books are trend now. Timothy Baril doesn’t tell a romantic story where the vampire is perfect, sweet, respectful with life and beautiful. No, Tim’s vampires are bloody, violent, secretive, cunning….. His creature, as Le Fanu’s, provokes both love and hate on those who cross her path, and that was a detail that I love the most and reminded me so much of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Used to reading about perfect creatures that don’t want to kill or hurt anybody, Carmilla was a great surprise because this vampire wants to feed and have a partner and she won’t hesitate to get it. She will trick, lie and pretend in order to get what she wants, she has done it in the past and she will keep doing it because it’s her nature.
If you have read Dracula by Bram Stoker, Timothy Baril’s Carmilla will remind you to this amazing classic. If you haven’t, read it, you should. And after doing it, give Baril’s baby a try. I haven’t read Le Fanu’s book – I will for sure – so I can’t compare them but Timothy Baril has rescued those characteristics that both creatures – both Dracula and Carmilla – have in common and have delighted people for decades.
Looking for some romance perfectly mixed with horror? Bored of those perfect vampires who prefer to drink tomato sauce than blood because they are good and nice? Do you fancy some lesbian romance with a twist? Then Carmilla: A prelude to Dracula by Timothy Baril is your book.
“No!” I was horrified by her revelation, yet glad too, for she had finally opened up about her past to me. I swiveled sharply on the bed, giving her all my bodily attention, and took her hands in mine. “Were you near dying?”
She nodded. “Yes, very – a cruel love – strange love, that would have taken my life. Love will have its sacrifices. No sacrifice without blood.” She smiled and brushed my nose playfully with her forefinger. “Let us go to sleep now. I feel so lazy. How can I even get up and lock my door?”
She lay down with her tiny hands buried in her rich wavy hair. Darling head upon the pillow, her glittering eyes followed me wherever I moved with a kind of shy smile that I could not decipher.
I bid her goodnight and crept from the room with an uncomfortable sensation. Only now did I have the presence of mind to contemplate our actions together on the bed. Was this turmoil twisting in the pit of my stomach regret or frustration, right or wrong?
The precautions of nervous people are infectious, and persons of a like temperament will, after a time, imitate each other. I had adopted Carmilla’s habit of locking the bedroom door, having taken into my head all her whimsical alarms about midnight invaders and prowling assassins. I had also adopted her precaution of making a brief search through the bedroom before sleeping, to satisfy oneself that no lurking assassin or robber was ensconced and waiting to pounce; and rob me of my virginity no doubt, as all the tales told. Although I wasn’t entirely willing to contemplate it, the idea of losing such to Carmilla almost had a perversely desirable appeal.
Security measures taken, I got into my bed and fell asleep with moonlight drifting in through the open window and bathing the stone floor in silvery radiance.
One would hope that locked doors and checking every shadow before closing ones eyes would allow one to take their rest in peace. But dreams don’t care about such real-world details. They come through stone walls, lighten dark rooms or darken light ones, and the ghostly persons in them make their exits and their entrances as they please, laughing at locksmiths.
I had a dream that night that resulted in a very strange agony.
I cannot call it a nightmare really, for I was quite conscious of being asleep. But I was equally conscious of being in my room, and lying in bed, precisely as I actually was. I saw, or fancied I saw, the room and its furniture just as I had seen it last, except that it was very dark.
Something moved around the foot of the bed, which at first I could not accurately distinguish. But I soon saw that it was a soot-black animal that resembled a monstrous cat. It appeared to be about four or five feet long for it fully stretched over the length of the hearthrug as it passed. It restlessly or indecisively paced back and forth with the lithe, sinister anxiousness of a beast in a cage.
It terrified me, but I couldn’t cry out, too frozen in place by fear and the unreality of the dream world to move. It paced faster, and the room grew rapidly darker and darker, and at length so dark that I could no longer see anything of the great cat but its terrible eyes. They glowed unnaturally red and deadly in the night. Unable to hold itself back any longer, it sprang lightly on the bed. The two broad eyes approached my face as it stalked me. I squeezed my eyes shut tight in frightened denial and turned my face away.
Suddenly I felt a stinging pain as if two large needles darted, an inch or two apart, deep into my breast. I woke with a scream, eyes snapping open.
In the dim moonlight, a female figure stood motionless at the foot of the bed, a little to the right side. It wore a dark, loose dress, and voluminous hair hung down and covered its shoulders. A block of stone could not have been more still. There was not the slightest stir of respiration or tilt of the head. I could make out only a hint of the whites of its eyes watching me from within the shadows over its face.